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Martian Time-Slip (English Edition) Kindle-editie
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As with Clans of the Alphane Moon (also published in '64), mental illness is the topic of the day, although it is handled with a level of maturity that was rarely seen in the genre at the time. The mentally ill are portrayed as deeply troubled people, rather than simply crazy, and the autistic child at the heart of Time-Slip's story remains one of Dick's strongest attempts to write a character who manages to convey so much pain with so few spoken words. Let's make another thing clear here: Martian Time-Slip, despite "time" being in the title, is not mainly a time-travel story. We do see a future, and it's a very bleak one, but it's shown mainly through drawings rather than characters experiencing it first-hand; it is a nightmarish place that we see only from a distance, but we feel the dread of its impending existence. The result is a book that—despite having a slower pace than much of Dick's other novels—possesses some truly haunting imagery and ideas that will most likely stick with the reader long after the last page is turned.
While it doesn't receive as much attention as Ubik or The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Martian Time-Slip is certainly one of the strongest entries in Dick's expansive and endlessly fascinating body of work. One could make a good argument that it's even better than the books I just mentioned, and yes, it is actually that good. Dick was never known to be a master at prose (his novels were essentially first drafts), but Martian Time-Slip is consistently well-written, at least by the author's standards; the narrative structure is also well-formed, and experimental enough that attempts to lump Dick in with New Wave writers can come off as justified. For the lucky bunch that got through Dick's more well-known novels, be sure to give this one a try.
It may be that Mars is somehow increasing the incidence of schizophrenia and autism. Honest and elite repairman Jack Bohlen is struggling with his own schizophrenic episodes while trying to make his family's lives as normal as possible. "Anomalous" autistic boy Manfred may be able to see the future and even travel in time, making him of great interest to powerful Arnie Kott. Jack hopes to help Manfred escape his dark visions, but is at risk of being pulled under by the swimmer he's trying to save.
I wouldn't recommend this one as a starter PKD, but it's another entertaining thought-provoker that confirms this author's brilliance and staying power